Tag Archives: #Governors

Being an investor in people

It is often said that staff are our greatest resource in school. I couldn’t agree more!

This week we have had a review of our Investors in People award however I am writing this blog post deliberately before we receive the outcome of our assessment as for me, as a strong advocate of being an Investor in People, it is not about the badge of recognition as much as the process and review of the work we do with our staff that enables the accreditation to happen.

What the Investors in People award process does is give you a framework and a system of progression to consider where you are at in 9 key areas of involving staff in the organisation and offers a clear benchmark against other organisations both in education and business. I am sure no – one would argue that the 9 areas outlined by the IIP standard are all equally important. They are: Leading and inspiring people, Living the organisation’s values and behaviours, Empowering and involving people, Managing performance, Recognising and rewarding high performance, Structuring work, Building capacity, Delivering continuous improvement and Creating sustainable success.

The children are at the heart of the school – rightly so – our core purpose is about meeting their holistic needs. The school is more than that though – we are a community – an extended family and in order to achieve what we set out to achieve we want a workforce who is the ‘best they can be’ in terms  of being knowlegeable, skilled, involved, empowered, trusted, resilient, have good health and wellbeing and enjoy their work. In the case of our school, we want a workforce that has all signed up to be PROUD: Passionate, Respectful, Organised, Understanding and Dedicated.  Being PROUD is the stick of rock which runs through everything we do from recruitment and selection of new staff, in all of our policies, through the appraisal system…through everything we do!

As a headteacher I have a clear role together with my leadership team to establish an ethos of aspiration and collaboration based on policies and procedures which enable all of the above things to happen.  It has been interesting when reflecting on where we are at in each area as we prepared for our review this week on how much has changed since we were last assessed 3 years ago. That is how it should be – as a school we do not sit still – everything we do constantly evolves as we are both proactive as well as responsive to changes going on within school, locally as well as nationally.

I am a PROUD headteacher. I am Passionate about supporting my staff team. I Respect that they all have different needs and ways of working. I am Organised in ensuring the systems and structures are in place to support them. I Understand that staff are also human beings who have their own needs / issues / lives outside of school too! I am Dedicated to ensuring the staff team can be the ‘best they can be’ .

Having said that the process is the most important part of being an Investor in People – absolutely right, however, having put in for assessment we clearly are hoping we have achieved the standard! The assessor spent two full days in school talking to individuals and different groups of staff. All staff were invited to complete an IIP  questionnaire. The assessor has also taken away a bank of school based evidence to review including staff, parent and multi-agency questionnaires, minutes of meetings, staff handbook, key policies, the school improvement plan and self evaluation form etc etc etc. He has to match whether the experience of staff he talked to matches what is in the documents we provided. Are we walking the walk as well as talking the talk?!

We have twice previously achieved the Investors in People ‘Gold Award’. Here’s hoping we will retain the Gold standard for the 3rd time! We find out in about a month time when we receive the report.

Of course that won’t be the end of it…there will always be developments we can consider, improvements we can make to ensure our school remains a school to be PROUD of.

Mary Isherwood

Headteacher

 

 

 

 

 

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‘Measure what you value not value what you measure’ . A special school context

 

The context

In my last blog I shared the presentation delivered by Mary Rayner HMI  when she spoke at a recent Greater Manchester leadership conference about the implementation of the Common Inspection Framework in the special school context.

One of the key messages we all took away with us was that in our schools there are many things in addition to Core and Foundation subjects which we value and want to celebrate, however, the onus is on us to ensure we are able to provide evidence of impact. It is not enough for us just to say how outstanding we are at for example personal and social development – how do we know? Importantly too if we are making a judgement of outstanding – what is that in relation to? How would it compare to other similar pupils in other similar settings?

Following the presentation, as a leadership team and then as a group of teachers, we have begun work on ensuring we have clarity on this in our own school.

The key questions for us were:

  • what areas ( in addition to Core and Foundation subjects) were we agreeing were the key areas we want to focus on / celebrate in terms of pupil achievement?
  • What are our existing sources of evidence for progress in these areas?
  • In what format do we want to present our evidence and who to? ( parents / governors / website)
  • On what basis are we making our judgements?
  • How do our judgements / evidence compare to that in other schools?

Where are we up to and what are our next steps?

The staff and governors have now agreed 9 key areas of achievement for our school. They are:

  • Core subjects
  • Foundation Subjects
  • Mobility
  • Social, Moral, Spiritual, Cultural (SMSC)
  • Behaviour
  • Communication
  • Characteristics of learning
  • Personal and social development (PSD)
  • Life Skills

We talked about how many of these overlap but can also identify key distinctions in our definitions of each one.

We then went onto deciding on and listing existing evidence sources for each area as we do not want to get into creating additional checklists for the sake of it! Many evidence sources are generic for each area e.g. formative assessment records, classroom observations, displays, end of year reports…however there are some evidence sources which are bespoke to individual areas e.g. for PSD / SMSC / Characteristics of learning – school council minutes have been included on the list of evidence sources.

We are now in the process of compiling case studies for each of the areas to which evidence sources which exemplify the progress made by some of our pupils will be attached. When complete, the table indicating our 9 areas of pupil progress with their evidence sources and anonymised case studies will be included on our website on the curriculum / assessment page.

Rather than relying solely on our own judgement however, in order to benchmark against other schools, we are working with special school leaders across Greater Manchester (in the established network   working group we have already which includes cross moderation of assessments), we are agreeing as a group what a ‘Gold standard’ case study should look like and then during 16 – 17 are planning to cross moderate each other’s case studies – a professional dialogue which will be really valuable.

On 13th July, we are going to discuss this topic between 8 – 8.30 p.m. on @SENexchange – a chat which I @Mishwood1, co-host with @cherrylkd and we would really love to hear from other schools about how you are tackling this issue? Let’s share good practice and ensure together we can make sure we achieve the best possible holistic outcomes for our children and young people with SEND.

Whilst this has been a conversation in this blog about learners with SEND, I am sure mainstream colleagues would agree that there are so many achievements other than core and foundation curriculum in all of our schools for all of our pupils so I would welcome views from all settings.

Thank you for reading and I look forward to hearing from you

Mary

 

 

 

 

Measure what you value not value what you measure: Some key messages for SEND

Yesterday was our annual Greater Manchester special school leadership conference and we were really pleased to have Mary Rayner HMI there to speak to us about the implementation of the Common Inspection Framework in the special school context, the implications of national working groups on achievement and evaluation of progress and the Local Area Inspection Framework with regards to schools being part of the local area.

The 50 or so people that attended the conference found Mary’s presentation informative, helpful and reassuring and therefore I felt it would be useful to share the key points she spoke about to a wider audience.

Mary is one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors ( HMI) and is one of Ofsted’s National Leads for SEND. Mary’s substantial leadership experience in the special and mainstream sector gives her immense credibility and her knowledge and experience of the full range of childruen and young people we work with was evident throughout her presentation.

Mary began by emphasising her belief in ‘removal of labels’ such as SLD / PMLD in the sense that geographically these can mean different things to different people. What counts is the individual child, their individual needs and how we can meet them. How could anyone disagree with that?

Common inspection framework – key messages from Mary

  • The CIF is intended to provide coherence, clarity and comparability – schools judged against the same set of standards

Teaching Learning and Assessment

  • Assessment is now in the right place as assessment SHOULD be informing Teaching and learning
  • As inspectors must take account of learning, Mary challenged us as leaders to really consider what it is we value in our school ( e.g. in special school context independence / self help skills, developing of friendships etc) and if we value these things – how do we measure them / show evidence of progress? We need to decide what is good progress for our learners. Inspectors can only take account of information if it is evidenced and moderated to ensure judgements are consistent. The CIF gives us an opportunity to be able to state what we value as part of our ethos – but we have the responsibility to evidence how it impacts on our pupils.
  • We need to tell our school story very clearly and concisely – e.g. if our cohort of pupils has changed and it has meant we have responded and changed our practice – how? why? impact?
  • There is no requirement for ‘data’ to be in a certain format – it can be in many forms – including where relevant and appropriate video evidence for example. As long as you show and evidence progress in a way that is relevant and appropriate to your school and your pupils – that is fine. Important to also take account of pupils for who may have conditions which mean for them there is regression in skills. Make sure their story is told.
  • Define in your own school what pupil ‘work’ is – what does it look like? where would you find it? where would you look for evidence of progress over time? DVDs? Displays?
  • Most important – school practice MUST reflect school policy! e.g. there is no requirement for particular systems of marking – however – if policy says particular requirement then that is what should be seen.
  • Assessment – doesn’t matter what you call it in your school – how do you know it is right? How do you baseline? Measure? moderate to ensure consistency? – using trusted professionals from other schools is sensible to support the process. Don’t avoid moderation with others in other schools even if using different systems – using them to check your systems are robust
  • Need to ensure breadth / depth / range of evidence – if teaching some curriculum areas within others on the timetable – that is fine but needs to be clear
  • Are you sure that all your teachers have the same high expectations?
  • Who are your groups in school – you can decide  within your own context – how do you define them?
  • Baseline is really important. Age, starting points AND time in school are all important as part of measuring and judging progress. Make sure for your own school you have considered what the judgements are and why
  • This is our opportunity to measure all the things we value and present them in a way that is meaningful  AND informs next steps
  • Assessment is linked to curriculum but doesn’t define it

Personal development, behaviour and welfare

 

  • Think about what is must be like to be a pupil at your school – kneel down – see it from their perspective
  • Ensure you are considering preparation for the next stage of education
  • Only use B code in register for actual teaching when you as a school know what is happening and you are monitoring it as a school
  • Improvement in behaviour? How do you know? What are you measuring?
  • You can consider resilience, self – help and independence in this category

Outcomes

  • No longer rule of 3 years of data
  • Professional judgement is important alongside other information you will provide
  • Rochford review – interim report – tried to fill gaps between P8 and what were National curriculum levels. Rochford review have been considering P levels – recommendations currently with ministers and should be published soon
  • P levels can be just a reporting tool. Many schools also use as an assessment tool but don’t have to.
  • Use networks to create comparative information which can be used to evidence progress
  • Can talk about regression and for some children sustaining  achievement

Leadership and management

  • What you do, why do you do it and what is the impact?
  • What is uncompromising ambition in your school ? Define it for yourselves.
  • Do governors share same passion and understanding? Do they understand pupil groups? Do they challenge and support leadership ?
  • What is the effectiveness of SMSC
  • Is vision and ethos clear on website? What information is on your website and what messages does it send about your school. Remember – inspectors will look at this before coming into your school to consider their ‘lines of enquiry’

With regards to Local Area inspections, Mary was just urging us to play our part in the overall information gathering in relation to SEND when inspectors come into school to look at EHCP plans and talk to various stakeholders about their experience of the process.

What was interesting was that after Mary had spoken, there were very few questions. The reason for this was that everybody had felt that Mary had answered the questions they had wanted to ask during her presentation. I hope sharing this with you has answered some of your questions too.

With my best wishes

Mary Isherwood

 

 

As we prepare for the new school year…………… #PostAPositive

It is inevitable that at the end of August, our thoughts have been increasingly turning to the start of the new school year. indeed some colleagues have already returned.

I was inspired by the post on Staffrm  by @SeanwelshBacc in which he talks about how much he enjoys his job and also takes up the mantle of #PostAPositive ( thanks Sean), so much so, I decided to write my own.

I am in the privileged position of being a headteacher. The best job in the world I would say ( well most days anyway!). Along with that privilege though comes responsibility and accountability neither of which should be taken lightly. The pupils and their needs must always be at the heart of what ever we do as a school so as I have been sat reflecting, preparing and discussing aspects of school improvement on my own, with members of the leadership team and with my Chair of Governors during the summer, I keep coming back to the question ‘So what? What will this mean to the pupils and their families?

A big year for us

There are so many things I could write about – but the purposes of this blog, for me, three things stand out as most significant:

Our new school building

This is a big year for us, for after many years of waiting,we are finally getting a new school building – purpose built for our pupils. What an amazing opportunity it has been to be able to have an input into designing a school for the many hundred pupils who will attend over the coming years. Pupils, staff, parents, members of the multi-agency team and governors all had an input in what they would like to see in the new school and finally the vision is heading towards reality. There is still lots to do this term as the building is still under construction and is as yet unfurnished. We get the keys to our new school in December 2015 and open to pupils in our new school building on 11th January 2016. How exciting!

It is of course exciting, but I am concious of how difficult such a huge change can be for our pupils, their families and staff, (particularly as we are moving to a new site approximately 2 miles away). To this end, our whole school topic this term is going to be ‘Buildings’ and ‘Change’ with all subjects where ever possible and as appropriate being taught through these themes e.g. in Science focussing on materials and their properties and Life and Living Processes to enable the children to think alot about buildings and their construction and around the environment of our new school. ‘Change’ will enable us to do lots of work on the Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning relating to the move. Visits to the new school site are organised this term for staff and where possible pupils and coffee mornings and for everyone there are regular updates on my weekly headteacher blog and on our school twitter account  @CamberwellPark

Our vision for the next 5 years

I am proud that our school has been judged Outstanding twice by Ofsted.It is important however, that we continue to review all of our policies, procedures and school practice to ensure that we continue to offer the best possible provision for our pupils. The move to the new school, the facilities it will provide and the new community where we will settle gives us an important renewed backdrop and impetus for this conversation. To this end, the governors and leadership team have together begun to consider the school’s vision for the next 5 years – what are our next steps. We have been asking ourselves some very important questions which are:

In 5 years time…

  • What will the children be saying about being a pupil at Camberwell Park School
  • What will the parents of children who attend be saying about the school?
  • What will staff be saying about working at the school?
  • What will other schools who we work with be saying about us?
  • What will people who live in the local community be saying?

Work to advance our initial discussions will continue into this year involving all stakeholders – a shared vision we all believe in and with the commitment and support that I know is there we can together make it happen!

Our partnerships and work with other schools ( Challenge and Support)

We have a number of networks  with other schools which we are really grateful for and I believe add mutual value to all of the schools involved. I wrote about our MC2SP ( Manchester Challenge to Support Partnership) in a blog for NCTL in January 2015. In addition working as an LLE and as part of a teaching school alliance enables us to develop our knowledge and skills by reflecting on our own practice in the context of other schools. During this year though I am really excited that we are part of a pilot project of 12 special schools working with Jessica Nash and the SSAT_SEN @SSAT_SEN on a programme of peer challenge and support using an external adviser working with us across the schools. I have been involved in shaping the programme which is very much about school improvement and support and definitely not about ‘Mocksted’ . Building capacity in my own leadership team it is two of my assistant heads and not me who will be involved in the programme, although I am looking forward to joining them on the launch day on September 10th.

So many things……

There really are so many things I could write about as we enter into this new school year and I have not mentioned – so many things we are working on within school as a result of our own priorities together with those brought about externally such as our continued work on assessment after levels, particularly for our pupils working above P8 and our continued work on implementing the SEND reforms and making the process as child and family centred as possible.

What am I most looking forward to?

Tuesday – seeing the staff team again – hopefully refreshed – everyone pleased to see each other and a renewed enthusiasm to being Passionate, Respectful, Organised, Understanding and Dedicated to the school – professional behaviours we are all signed up to as a staff team.

Wednesday – We welcome 18 new pupils!! Such a big day for them starting school! Seeing all of our other pupils after the holiday too –  how they have grown, new hair cuts, new shoes – lots of smiles! Spending time going round school on Wednesday – privilege is the only appropriate word.

Last word

I am not for one minute imagining the year won’t be without it’s challenges – I am under no illusion that it will be tough at times – but just these few notes I hope will give a flavour about how the really proud headteacher who is sat here writing this blog feels – what a year ahead – how could I not be excited? – BRING IT ON!

#SENreforms: One year on – a special school perspective

The revised Code of Practice for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disability has now been statutory for a full academic year. On the publication of the Final Impact research report from the pathfinder Local Authorities I wanted to record the story of Camberwell Park School .

There was a general consensus that the statutory assessment process for children with special educational needs needed to change – an over bureaucratic and excessively lengthy process in which often the child and their needs was a by-product (that was my experience of it).  All of the  messages about the new Code of Practice in which we move away from Statements of Special Educational Needs towards Education, Health and Care Plans -The philosophy of  a more child / family centred process right from 0 – 25 years which is responsive to local need and has all agencies working together for a fully co-ordinated approach – what’s not to love?

Whilst I fully acknowledge it is not yet a perfect system – far from it – despite the challenges we have faced, our overall experience and the feedback we have had from the families, has been of a much more positive way of working – the children, their needs and their outcomes are now much more at the forefront. Let me tell you our successes, challenges and next steps…………………..

As a Manchester headteacher I was pleased that the Local Authority took a proactive approach. They had been a pathfinder for the reforms for young people with SEN from 16 – 25, but also established a multi-agency working party during summer 2014 to prepare for implementation of the reforms the following September.I was pleased to be invited to represent the special school sector in this group. During this term we also wished to be proactive as a school – training key staff in person centred planning and identifying a small cohort of families for us to pilot the revised annual review process. Where ever possible we already included our pupils in annual reviews and they prepared their own report prior to the meetings using symbol communication where needed. We set about updating our pupil booklet however in line with person centred planning tools and requirements for what was then the draft Code of Practice as well as establishing a parent voice booklet.

As a special school, all of our children have already had a statement of special educational needs so our year has been one of conversions of statements to Education, Health, Care Plans. We embarked on an ambitious programme to complete conversions for all of our 93 children in one year!

Our key successes

  • The annual review meetings in the new person centred format have been fantastic! They are very child centred and we have had much more open, honest and informative discussions enabling us to establish meaningful and relevant outcomes for the children and their families. The feedback we have received from parents / carers have included these comments in the most recent parent / carer questionnaire:

‘I think the way the new EHCP have been conducted was a lovely change. Having everyone to contribute was effective and positive.’

‘School meetings have always been informative. The teachers have always wanted to know my thoughts and feelings on subjects that have been discussed.’

  • As already mentioned, pupil voice has always been important but we have worked hard on developing further the tools the children have to express their views  and they continue to amaze us with their ability  to express their likes, dislikes, aspirations for the future and what others can do to help them using their pupil views booklet as a framework. Parents / carers too we have found have valued the family views booklet to help them prepare for discussions in the reviews
  • We grappled with how we relate the outcomes set in the annual reviews / EHCP match to our existing Individual Education Plan programme in which personalised targets focussed on ‘barriers to learning’ are established. The timing of the two things were not marrying therefore the process was not co-ordinated enough. We needed to find a way of setting targets following annual reviews and making sure we follow up  on progress each term including parents / carers and other agencies. We have now established a programme of holding all annual reviews in the autumn term following which all pupils have personalised ‘My Learning Targets’ set using EHCP / annual review outcomes. These are then updated each term including feedback / discussion from parents / carers at parent’s evening and information from other agencies where appropriate and then updated / amended as necessary.
  • We are have worked closely with the high school which most of our pupils move to in terms of the transition reviews to ensure that the move from primary to high school is as smooth as possible for both the child and their family. We have recently included gaining pupil views on their transition programme into our questionnaires to see how prepared the pupils feel for their next stage of education and to inform any changes we might want / need to make to the process.
  • We have worked hard on the SEN Information report on our website – consulting with parents / carers on what they wanted included and trying to make it  as user friendly, informative, relevant and meaningful as possible

Our main challenges

Whilst the results of the changes have been mainly positive, I cannot pretend the year has been without it’s challenges – some of which we have resolved and some are work in progress!

  • Each of the annual reviews are taking much more time – on average one and a half hours, plus all the preparation time and putting together paper work afterwards. Not for one minute am I complaining about giving what is essential and valued time to the children and their families and as has been said, the meetings are one of the biggest successes, however, we feel that the meetings are important enough to ensure it is always a member of the senior management team which leads them, therefore, logistically it has placed a much bigger challenge on our time – not insurmountable but has needed lots of adjustments of roles / responsibilities and timetabling
  • The administration is a nightmare! We haven’t  got this one fully sorted yet and I would be delighted to know if anyone out there has cracked this? We are paying for additional admin time to minute the meetings, however, the meeting format does not lend itself well to direct minuting and doesn’t match directly to the paperwork required by the LA so is requiring a lot of additional time for us proof reading and amending after the meetings have finished
  • Multi- agency involvement continues to be a challenge – one of the central themes of the reforms is that it is a ‘health and care’ plan in addition to education. We have had lots of support from other agencies in trying to find ways forward and for the most part we are now getting multi-agency reports to be included in meetings. There are two key reasons for this challenge – one is that multi-agency team members are much less available than they were due to cut backs in services so often are not able to allocate the time to attend meetings. In addition, when are families are so complex and have many agencies involved, it is difficult to schedule meetings when everyone is available, even well in advance. Working with our multi agency teams we have had some improved success for the forthcoming year identifying the priorities for each child and who it is most essential to attend e.g. nurse, speech and lang therapist, with others contributing a report  – but as the discussion is so valuable at the meetings, in an ideal world they would all be there!

So our next steps……………

I think the honest answer is that it all continues to be work in progress!

Our programme of annual reviews for 2015 / 2016 is already in place and all members of multi-agency teams have had the dates. We will continue to be Passionate about ensuring our pupils achieve the best outcomes possible, be Respectful of all of the individual needs of the pupils and their families, be Organised in making sure everyone has the information they need to contribute, be Understanding of individual circumstances and how we can best support and be Dedicated in ensuring we are the best we can be. Camberwell Park continues to be a school to be PROUD of

The headteacher inspector calls

Both Nick Hague @educationbear and MaryIsherwood @Mishwood1, were delighted to have had the opportunity to meet with Ofsted’s National Director, Sean Harford @HarfordSean, alongside a small number of other colleagues, many of whom have already blogged about the meeting held on Monday, 18th May 2015: debra kidd @debrakiddTim Taylor @imagineinquiryCherryl-kd @cherrylkdThe Primary Head @theprimaryheadOld Primary Head @Oldprimaryhead1 , Emma Ann Hardy @emmaannhardyMiss Smith @HeyMissSmith

We have chosen to explore further an area which was discussed on the day and as heads who have both trained as inspectors, an aspect pertinent to us both – that of serving practitioners as inspectors.

This is not a new concept, in fact there have been serving head teacher and senior leader practitioners on teams for many years, but it is a concept which has gathered momentum over the last few years as the changes to the inspection framework / process have been developing:
– The HMCI, Sir Michael Wilshaw suggested back in March 2002 when speaking to the ASCL conference “one way you can lead the system is to be more involved in inspection”, adding, “Too few heads become inspectors”.
– Mike Cladingbowl who was at the time National Director for Ofsted, speaking to Manchester senior leaders and governors in February 2014 also spoke about the notion of ‘An inspector in every school’ Mary alluded to this in her blog ‘To grade or not to grade – that is the question’ http://wp.me/p4cGdC-w
– It was also raised during discussion at our meeting by Sean Harford in the context of giving credibility to inspections

If the premise is that the principle of having head teachers as inspectors is a good one, then what is the issue? Why is it worthy of debate and further discussion?
For us, including the others who met with Sean Harford and we are sure for many of you reading this, there seems to be a number of questions / potential issues…….

Here are our thoughts…

Do you need to be in an outstanding school to be an outstanding head?

MI: No in my opinion in the sense that it is a very shallow and potentially misrepresentative part of the criteria. There are many outstanding leaders who are not in outstanding schools. Equally, it does not always follow if you have joined an already outstanding school that you are an outstanding head teacher.

NH: I would agree with this. The notion of outstanding is one which has been open to much debate and I would also say ridicule and misuse. It is often used by politicians and others to highlight the supposed best or as the magic ‘Golden Ticket’ which opens a range of doors. We have too often simply defined leadership by a single word or person rather than a defining collaborative act. Let’s look beyond the narrow confines of the word so that access to, and support for, the many highly effective leaders and leadership teams is enabled for all – leadership not label!

Amount of time contracted

MI: This is an area that I raised at our meeting with Sean. There is an expectation for serving practitioners to contract to Ofsted for a minimum of 15 inspection days per year. On top of this there is 5 days mandatory face to face training, online training units particularly as areas of inspection are updated and of course time needed for preparation for inspections. Whilst I whole heartedly agree with Sean as he said when we met that it is necessary to be engaged in regular inspections in order to ensure skills are maintained and developed, for me, the current requirement is too great on top of all of the other demands both in and out of my own school. It is the reason I have made the difficult decision that whilst succeeding in the assessment process to be an Ofsted inspector I have withdrawn from contracting with Ofsted.

NH: This is a key issue for serving practitioners. The minimum of 15 days may not sound a lot when spread over an academic year but there are tasks to complete prior to any inspection (as there should be) as well as additional training days and update reading. Sean has always been very clear about the importance of having serving practitioners as members of inspection teams and now, more than ever, this is crucial to the future credibility of Ofsted and inspections. However, he did state at the meeting that he would be keeping the issue of contracted time under review once the new framework has been embedded and could be reviewed.

MI: This is true. Sean did encourage me to see how it went for two terms and then discuss further, particularly in the context as he said of there being a shortage of special school heads as inspectors. I would be concerned as a professional however about contracting and then ‘withdrawing’ mid-contract so I would welcome a review of minimum requirements which enabled serving heads like me to keep that balance. Also build in flexibility at particular pressure times within a school life e.g. changes to leadership teams or like we are – moving to a new school building next year – things that put significant pressure on Head teachers meaning they may need to temporarily reduce their external commitments.

Unintended consequences

MI: The theme of unintended consequences was raised in the meeting in a range of ways. My reference to unintended consequences is the Head teacher inspector who is so busy doing inspections that they ‘take their eye of the ball’ and standards decline in their own school as a consequence.

NH: This has happened and will be a concern to any senior leader embarking upon work with Ofsted. However, it is to be hoped that it would be seen and applied in context. Your school must and should come first!

Being a headteacher versus an inspector: a very different role

MI: Quite rightly the notion that a head teacher should not expect or impose ‘their way of doing things’ on a school they are inspecting was raised during our meeting. The CfBT training strongly emphasised that whilst the knowledge and experience of being a head teacher is clearly strength, the role of an inspector for example observing teaching in a school they are inspecting is very different from that in their own. I feel this will continue to be an essential element of ongoing training for serving practitioner inspectors

NH: For me it is about the need to leave your luggage at the door! As you say Mary, the knowledge and skills of leadership clearly contribute to your effectiveness as an inspector but you are not judging any particular method or simply honing in on one aspect of available information. It is also a matter of exercising professional control if your thoughts stray from the brief!

An inspector has to be someone working in the same phase or not?

MI: This is an area of contention and again was raised during our discussion. It is a common concern of mine and others that inspectors of special schools do not have the background knowledge and expertise to be able to make informed judgements. The same could be said of secondary trained inspectors inspecting primary schools. An essential ingredient of a team MUST be someone from that phase / background in my opinion. Within a team though, with the right training – maybe someone outside that phase could add value to professional discussions? Possibly.

NH: Mmm… in an ideal world! I do think that the majority of inspectors on any given team should have skills and experiences drawn from the phase they are inspecting. This adds credibility to the process and outcome. However, I am also supportive of the argument that all colleagues can add to any professional discussion – if not, then are we saying that primary, secondary, special are totally different?

Does an inspector have to be a senior leader or should others in school train as inspectors?

MI: Another area of contention – although not sure if any areas are not contentious actually! I feel again there is a value to extending the opportunities to train as inspectors to middle leadership in schools. The key thing in this for me, as currently with Head teacher / senior leaders, is the rigour of the application process – selecting the right people who are applying to be inspectors for the right reasons and then ensuring they get high quality training and there is ongoing rigorous quality assurance. If all of those things are in place then why not?

NH: Some colleagues I have met who are also serving head teachers, really shouldn’t be inspecting. It is about the right leader for the right job. All inspectors should have experience of some aspect of whole school leadership – whether that be at subject, phase or a higher level. The key message should be about the ability to grasp issues on a whole school level and interpret them without fear or favour – this is not solely within the remit of head teachers.

Initial training / CPD and Quality assurance for inspectors

NH: Sean was very clear on the reasons behind Ofsted ‘bringing the team’ back in house but training and quality assurance are potentially still variable moving forward. I am hopeful that the changes made to date will impact positively upon the whole process of inspection. However, I firmly believe that the ongoing training needs to be rigorous and inspectors should be open to the highest degree of professional challenge – this has often been held up as the case but has not always materialised in practice. Further, quality assurance methods should be part of the inspection process far more regularly than at present. Teams should be more frequently quality assured as they are inspecting so that feedback is immediate and developmental. I’ve commented on training and QA in a previous post – https://educationbear.wordpress.com/2014/03/09/ofsted-2-retraining-the-dementors/

MI: I quite agree. The contracting between schools and inspectors must include the provision of high quality initial training and ongoing by Ofsted. The onus is on inspectors to fully engage in the training provided to ensure they are up to date. Quality assurance is imperative and is for me is one of the pillars on which Ofsted will stand or fall by – what gives it credibility. The framework is there for everyone and is clear; however with the professional judgement that comes alongside it there is also professional fallibility. The QA process needs to make sure schools do not fall fowl of that as sadly has happened in the past.

To conclude:

MI: Sean Harford and his colleagues continue to show the openness for dialogue and collaboration with those of us working ‘at the chalk face’ as changes to the inspection framework and process are developed and established. If the inspection process is truly to be a shared experience between schools and the inspectorate then I feel we have a responsibility to equally engage in the dialogue. We share the same end goal which is to improve outcomes for all of the children and young people we work with after all.

NH: We cannot change the past or the sometimes unprofessional and harrowing inspections some colleagues have experienced. To move forward, however difficult, it must be a collaboration between schools and Ofsted. School leaders should and must deliver a strong message about their own school and their context. Inspection teams must fully understand the framework without losing sight of their professional judgement when applying it.

#TwitteratiChallenge

twitterati challenge

On Thursday 30th April, I was honoured to have been included by my much valued colleague and close friend Cherryl-kd @cherrylkd in her top 5 of  ‘Go to’ Educators in the #TwitteratiChallenge  http://tinyurl.com/lgacyzw 

It is a challenge initiated by Ross, @TeacherToolkit – “In the spirit of social-media-educator friendships, this summer it is time to recognise your most supportive colleagues in a simple blogpost shout-out. Whatever your reason, these 5 educators should be your 5 go-to people in times of challenge and critique, or for verification and support”:  http://tinyurl.com/m6nn5wv

I very much appreciate the collaboration I have and the support I receive from a number of people  – so what a great way to give them a mention!

Here are the rules:

There are only 3 rules.

1. You cannot knowingly include someone you work with in real life.

2. You cannot list somebody that has already been named if you are already made aware of them being listed on #TwitteratiChallenge.

3. You will need to copy and paste the title of this blogpost and (the rules and what to do) information into your own blog post.

What to do?

There are 5 to dos you must use if you would like to nominate your own list of colleagues.

1. Within 7 days of being nominated by somebody else, you need to identify colleagues that you rely regularly go-to for support and challenge. They have now been challenged and must act and must act as participants of the #TwitteratiChallenge.

2 .If you’ve been nominated, you must write your own #TwitteratiChallenge blogpost within 7 days. If you do not have your own blog, try @staffrm.

3. The educator nominated, that means you reading this must either: a) record a video of themselves (using Periscope) in continuous footage and announce their acceptance of the challenge, followed by a pouring of your (chose) drink over a glass of ice.

4. Then the drink is to be lifted with a ‘cheers’ before the participant nominates their 5 other educators to participate in the challenge.

5. The educator that is now (newly) nominated, has 7 days to compose their own #TwitteratiChallenge blogpost and identify who their top 5 go-to educators are.

That’s the easy bit – saying the purpose of the post and including the rules – it was hard for me to choose only 5 as there are more people if the rules had allowed I would’ve included so please don’t be offended – I could only include 5. I did think of giving a few more a sneaky mention but I am a good girl so top 5 it is…here goes – in no particular order:

Julie Clarke @JulieEClarke

Socialist, swimmer, Hornets fan and, hopefully, good friend and good company. All views my own.

   Julie Clarke

I have known Julie since 2007 when we did our M.Ed in Educational Leadership together. We met on the course and it turned out we lived near to each other. Julie has continued to be a valued colleague and close friend. I trust her implicitly and know that both personally and professionally her advice will always be honest.  She is frank and direct in her views as those that read her tweets and blog will know but she writes her blog posts with eloquence and considered thought. I enjoy reading them. She sometimes challenges my thinking  but I know she always has my best interests at heart. She is generous with her time and her support  and I know she is equally supportive to many others around her. I’m glad to have you in my life Mrs Clarke. Thank you.

Nick Hague  @educationbear

Primary Teacher, Associate Head, Leadership Coach/Mentor, Primary School Governor & . RTs do not imply agreement. Views are my own.

Nick

Nick was one of the first people I followed and who followed me on twitter. I distinctly remember one of our first interactions was me asking if I could send him a draft of a plan for a staff meeting I was working on and seeking his views. He readily agreed and gave me helpful, constructive feedback. This continues reciprocally on a regular basis to this day. Nick and I regularly share resources and information by email and also chat on the phone about a range of issues. Nick has also become a true and close friend. I respect and value his views, friendship and support.  Thank you Nick for being who you are.

ClaireC @Constant55

Primary Headteacher. I love collaboration, communication and seeking out the spark that ignites individuals passion to improve. Music lover, baker,cook,thinker

Claire

Claire is also someone I have been in contact with since my early twitter days. Like me, Claire is a ‘lark’ rather than an ‘owl’ and can often be found tweeting in the early hours of the morning, usually accompanied by her cat, Ollie. I have been delighted to have been able to have met Claire at a conference last year, but even before I did her kind, generous, supportive, warm, caring nature came through very much in her tweets and our interactions. Claire has been generous in sharing information she has gathered on training with me and colleagues and has also been willing to share information about her own school to support me in my inspection training. Her philosophy and approach to leadership is one I subscribe to and I am delighted that I have the opportunity to meet with her at her school very soon. I look forward to valuable professional discussion but also – as on twitter – lots of laughs! Thank you Claire for our connection.

Nicola Wood @NicolaWood64

Primary Headteacher. ‘Jill’ of all trades; Master of none. Aspiring to be outstanding but requiring improvement daily.

Nicola

Nicola is a twitter colleague I ‘became aware of’, noticing her tweets as my twitter journey went along –  noticing her dedication, wit, care, support of others and appreciated her interactions with me.. Nicola also is consistently willing to share ideas and resources and information from her school. I just loved the ‘Take-away’ CPD model she produced and not only did she let me have the PDF copy but also the word copy that I could adapt for my own purposes. Most recently Nicola as shared with me and a small group of colleagues her completed SEF  – it is such a privilege when colleagues feel they have the trust with each other that they are able to share in this way. As headteachers, it is really important to have that type of relationship and Nicola I value our professional contact and also your friendship and support very much. Thank you

Jay Virk @virkjay

Head teacher, owner of Bonnie the boxer, on a constant quest to increase fitness through running, love baking, enjoy good food and wine. Ever the optimist!

Jay

What would the early bird club be without Jay! Jay is one of the most positive, encouraging and supportive people I know on twitter. She always has time to respond to people, congratulating on their successes and sending supportive messages when they’re feeling low. What people do not necessarily know or see however is how generous and kind Jay is behind the scenes. As with all other colleagues mentioned in my top 5, I count Jay as a friend. We regularly share DMs. She remembers things going on in my world and sends me good luck messages, asks me how I have gone on, celebrates and commiserates with me as needed. Jay also is generous in sharing information and resources from her school and from training she has received. I meet Jay last year at a conference – can’t wait to see you again soon Jay! Thank you Jay for everything you do.

So there it is – my top 5!

Like I said before – there are others I am finding it tough not mentioning……I am thinking of you as I am writing this…… Twitter is such a great place for CPD, support, sharing and more than a few laughs along the way!

Enjoy the ~TwitteratiChallenge everyone!